• 46
2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost - Click above for high-res image gallery

Rich people are different from the rest of us. Their wants and needs involve parameters and details completely foreign to the proletariat. While we use our vehicles for transportation, utility and sport, the rich view their automobiles as a necessary accoutrement to their elevated lifestyles.

For the ultra-wealthy, an appropriate equivalent might be an original Remington bronze or Picasso painting. And just as they need art in their mansions, they need beautiful transportation. The 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost lives up to those lofty requirements by simultaneously being a rolling work of art and a status symbol beyond reproach.

Like access to the Queen, our time with the Ghost was strictly limited, so comprehensive driving impressions will have to wait. But what we did get was a rare glimpse into what the world's richest inhabitants will enjoy when the Ghost goes on sale this year. And as you'd expect, life is good on this side of the financial Bell Curve.

Photos by Rex Roy / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

In the world of automobiles, there are better vehicles than the 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost. Some may feature more complex and innovative engineering. Others may provide more performance. There are certainly more expensive and exclusive cars.

But none of these facts matter. To those attracted to the newest, smaller Roller, what matters more is how the Ghost goes about its business of enhancing a well-off individual's life.

Certainly, the engineering is solid. It's what you'd expect of Rolls-Royce's caretakers at BMW. Approximately 20-percent of what's used in the Ghost is related to the current and previous generation BMW 7 Series. In other words, Rolls-Royce started with premium stock and went no where but up.

Certainly, the 2010 Ghost has more street presence than BMW's flagship. The differences are so great that most would never know the two were related, even with the knowledge that the hallowed British marque is under German control.

The Ghost's lines are artfully drawn, not a bit fussy or over done. They are simple and elegant, and impart a sense of solidity. Important details such as the coach doors (otherwise referred to as "suicide" doors by the unwashed masses) allowed designers to make a single element of the front and rear door handles. The design simply looks right. Tiny details reinforce the aura, including the "RR" centers that spin freely within the wheels so the logo remains upright at all times.

While there's not much to set the Rolls apart at the rear – those chromed exhaust tips are a $3,200 option – up front the car's heritage is unmistakable. Set off by the optional $5,000 Silver Satin Bonnet finish, the smaller-than-on-the-Phantom recessed grille looks appropriately updated and none-too-large given its surroundings. The strong horizontal shape of the Xenon headlamps (with integrated running LEDs) accentuates the fenders and provides another familial styling cue. A single line of turn signal LEDs rest directly below the main lamps, and standard foglights would apparently be gauche.

And, of course, one cannot overlook the Spirit of Ecstasy. She's been the brand's mascot since the very beginning, and looks remarkable for being 99 years old. She first adorned a Rolls-Royce in 1911, and has been used in various poses ever since. To protect against theft and in the event of a collision with a pedestrian, she quickly retracts into the faux radiator shell. Find her image in the gallery and look at how lovingly she was sculpted. If you look close enough, you can see how her young eyes look eagerly ahead. While setting a good example for all, her eager attitude is warranted given the performance available from the Ghost.

Based on the twin-turbo V12 from the fourth-generation E66 7-Series, the Ghost's engine has been stroked from 6.0 to 6.6 liters and produces 563 horsepower at 5,250 rpm with 575 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm. The gearbox is based on a unit spreading through BMW's ranks, the excellent ZF eight-speed automatic.

The suspension is unique to the Ghost, and uses a double-wishbone arrangement up front with a multi-link setup out back. Air springs work in concert with variable dampers and plenty of electronic algorithms to provide uncanny handling for a car that weighs nearly three tons (5445-pounds without occupants). The example we drove was shod with optional 20-inch wheels and tires (another $5,000 option). The doughnuts measured P255/45R20 in front and P285/40R20 in the rear, so there's no need to wonder whether the Ghost possesses the physical means necessary to exercise great mechanical grip. The brakes were equally large, with the front discs measuring over 16 inches.

While substantially engineered, most Ghost owners think as much about horsepower as they do about the enriched soil used in their rose gardens. What they care about is the aforementioned exterior style and how the interior speaks to their inner Richie Rich.

Unlike the exterior, which seems to be a more cohesive design statement, the interior is a mash-up of old-world charm and modern-day technologies. Matched wood veneers (all pieces from the same tree) and beautiful hides (some 10 pampered bovines give their all for each Ghost) coexist with an 10.2-inch LCD screen and a version of BMW's iDrive. It feels a bit like having a microwave oven in the kitchen of a historic British castle.

Most of it works just fine, but some of the fussy design details seem intent on pandering to perceived luxury, not luxury itself. The chromed buttons on the steering wheel, for instance, are so shiny that it's nearly impossible to identify their function.

For those familiar with BMW's biggest sedan, the amount of shared components inside is obvious. The operation of the entertainment and NAV systems is identical, and controls set into the rear armrest are nearly very close to the 7 Series. It's likely most owners won't notice.

One of the pieces we thought wonderfully elegant was the power-closing rear doors activated by an interior switch. The wide openings (we're told they come out to 83-degrees, but we didn't bring a protractor) make elegant and demure entries and exits from the rear seats a breeze. Flash-prone pop stars might not appreciate it, but society ladies will.

Representatives of Rolls-Royce say that the Ghost is designed to be driven by its owner. (Sorry, Jeeves.) Provided the owner isn't a rabid fan of the Audi R8 or Ferrari California, he'll think the Ghost is something pretty special when it comes to chassis dynamics. The acceleration will certainly get your attention, as the engine's ability to hustle the massive slab of sedan to 60 mph in around four seconds is enough to make you reach for a pricy aged scotch (but not while driving, of course).

Our driving experience in the Ghost was limited to about an hour on the surface streets in and around Philadelphia, PA. In these confined environs, the Ghost gathered speed so quickly it felt like we were being whacked forward by a massive velvet sledge hammer.

The adjustable suspension did a commendable job of managing the huge throttle and brake inputs, but while the body movements were well controlled, the ride was more Lexus/Mercedes-Benz than BMW. The adjective "wafting" is not quite accurate – it's actually more of a semi-waft.

As you'd expect, the Ghost was supple and road noise was commendably subdued. However, the ride was not substantially more comfortable than the 760iL we had a chance to drive later the same day. As with so many other qualities, this isn't likely to matter.

The reality is that with the narrowing of the mean as it relates to overall vehicle quality and performance, a Rolls-Royce isn't that much better than other ultra-premium luxury sedans in the dynamic and comfort departments.

But this Ghost – priced at $297,325 – is not about miniscule differences in handling, power or features. This car is all about presence and statement-making. And it does these things remarkably well in the rarified air most of us will never breathe.

Photos by Rex Roy / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks extremely sharp, now that screams exclusitivity.
        • 5 Years Ago
        mulsanne for me too
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a POS dinosaur....
      • 5 Years Ago
      I saw two or three of these just last week at a dealership in Sewickley, PA. The Phantom parked next to one of the Ghosts really lays it out for you just how more cohesive the design of the Ghost is. And even though it's the 'baby Rolls', it's still a giant, but it doesn't have the cartoonish proportions of the Phantom.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Gorgeous overall but it looks a little squinty-eyed to me. I've heard people say that headlights are the jewelry of a car. These seem a bit too understated. Of course, the target buyers for this car may see things differently.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think it's drop dead gorgeous. But come on RR, what's with the shark fin radio antenna that looks like it's made of black plastic?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Meh. Even if I was insanely rich, this isn'treally my thing. Sure, it's fancy. But honestly I'd just rather own a Lexus, BMW or an Audi. Maybe if I lived in Cali where you need to stand out and be better than the Joneses... Maybe.

      The interior is really what killed it for me... it's just not that interesting. Way too fancy...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nerd Clarification:

      The E66 7-Series didn't have a Twin Turbo V12. The engine is based on that from the F01 5th generation car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks nice. They could have extended the two tone back to the trunk too, but it might have cheapened the overall look.

      All they need to do now is design one more car in the range below or above this and call it the Spirit or Spectre, then they'll have a whole lineup of cars named after things old rich people turn into after they die.
      • 5 Years Ago
      On a side note... Anybody know why so many of these test cars have Georgia license plates?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I live in Atlanta and have seen one several times on the street (in black). Have to say it doesn't scream "special" in any way. If I wasn't "in the know", I don't think I would be very excited to see it.

        Some may not like the Phantom, but one can't deny that the words "Rolls Royce" come to everyone's mind when they see it (whether they know about cars or not). Same with the Drophead. I think this one fails in the "look at me, but don't look at me" department. In the real world, in my experience, it blends in almost as much as the 760 does. The "metallic" hood would help with this I think.

        Also, the horizontal LEDs don't make a distinctive statement about the car. It would be nice if they had some sort of a pattern that immediately made you think Rolls Royce when you saw them from afar.
      • 5 Years Ago
      wow thank you autoblog for revealing all the details on this car.
      This car is for the ultra rich (billions or hundred millions) wanna-be of the moderately rich (millions) to buy. Look at its tail pipe, you can see that it's tucked away in a very crude manner.
      This does not look like a re-designed car, it looks like an expensive car with major cut backs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        i totally agree justin, for $300,000 the car should be completely unique. instead it looks like a mini rolls that shares not only the 7 series engine, but also the transmission. complete ripoff, but i'm sure the company is making a hefty profit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This car looks great and I think they improved the interior a lot. :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Still comes with an ashtray. Interesting!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Of course, where else would you expect the owner to ash his Cohiba Esplendido on the way home from a long day at the office?
    • Load More Comments